Published March 5, 2015
MARIETTA — Urgency. Passion. Focus. Those words seem to characterize the heart of the God-called evangelist. The Georgia Baptist Evangelists held their annual retreat Feb. 13-14 at Piedmont Baptist Church in Marietta. According to the president of the organization, Brian Fossett, the meeting was “incredible.”
One of the items on the agenda was the name change of the organization. Since its inception the evangelists established their organization as the Conference of Georgia Baptist Evangelists (COGBE). However, the organization will now be referred to as Georgia Baptist Evangelists (GBE).
New website revealed
Fossett explained, “We changed the name because we didn’t want our name to look antiquated or irrelevant. We wanted to simplify the name of our organization in this digital age. We felt it was a time for freshness and renewal. The vote was unanimous. We also have a new website – www.georgiaevangelists.com.”
Georgia Baptist state missionary Scott Smith encouraged and challenged those present with the words of the Apostle Paul: “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9).
Smith stated, “This is the best time in history to share the Gospel. With the availability of technology and the Internet, we now have multiple opportunities to share the message of God’s saving grace. People are confused about life, its meaning and purpose, and its destination. The Gospel is needed and often welcomed. You (evangelists) are especially designated to deliver The Answer.
“It must be noted that the opportunities that are available to us now will not stay open forever. They must be taken advantage of, leveraged while the door is open. There are also many adversaries: false ‘gospels,’ the world system, our own flesh, attacks on religious liberty, and the Devil himself.
“However, God always gives power in proportion to the size of the door; and we must remember that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation.”
Smith, who spent 17 years on the road as an evangelist himself, admonished the evangelists to preach the Word and love the people, give priority to your family, add value to your calling as an evangelist, don’t manipulate your Gospel invitations, and publicize your blessings, not your needs.
Speaking of the retreat, Smith added, “Rarely will you get that many uber-focused Gospel proclaimers in one room. It was a privilege to be there. I went there to encourage, but I was the one encouraged in the Gospel because our evangelists are so remarkably single-minded for souls. They are focused and passionate about their function as spiritual midwives. We’d be at a great loss without them.”
Joel Southerland, director of Evangelism Strategy for the North American Mission Board, also addressed the group and stated, “The normative church in the United States baptizes about four people a year. Baptisms are low because we’ve let that number slip slightly. If the average church in the nation raised their baptisms by two people each year we would be achieving historic highs.
“When I study the top baptizing churches in every state, the number one factor in evangelism is the leadership of the pastor. If the pastor intentionally leads his church to be evangelistic, he will significantly raise the evangelism effectiveness. Evangelists can become a very important part of that intentionality. Revivals and harvest Sundays are still effective in most areas.”
‘A unique time’
Evangelist Keith Fordham observed, “During the retreat the evangelists had an opportunity to share testimonies of how they have seen God work in their ministries. Many told about how they had seen evidences of God’s power manifested in the lives of men, women, preachers, and singers. Hearing about souls saved, lives changed, and backsliders getting right was so exciting. I am still rejoicing in Jesus about the testimonies I heard.”
Music evangelist Jeff Cleghorn noted, “This is a unique time for itinerant evangelists, and it is encouraging to see how God is working through each one of us differently. I am looking forward to the future with the new organization name and all the excitement surrounding it. We are praying that our membership numbers will continue to grow and that each of our ministries will continue to find favor and flourish in our local churches.”
Fossett declared, “Proverbs 10:5 says that the son that sleeps or slumbers during the harvest brings shame to the Father. We do not need to be a sleeping church or denomination. We certainly do not want to bring shame to our Lord.
“If the Lord were to somehow reveal to us that this is our last day on earth, that He would be coming back tonight, what would He have us to do? Would He have us start some new program or build a new building? It is evident that He would have us tell somebody about His saving grace. That is why evangelists are so relevant and necessary to the church.”
GBE officers for 2015 are: president – Brian Fossett; vice presidents – Daryel O’Barr and Bart Ponders; secretary-treasurer – Jeff Cleghorn; worship leaders – Joe and Kim Stanley; prayer coordinator – Mark Yoho; and pastor advisor – Darey Kittle.
The God-called evangelist is a gift to the church. The purpose of our Georgia Baptist Evangelists is to lift up the name of Jesus, harvest the crop of souls ready to receive the Gospel, promote revival and evangelism in all churches, and work with the Georgia Baptist Convention in bringing all Georgians to a saving knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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